“TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader…TED conferences bring together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes or less).”
-“About TED,” TED wesbite
TEDTalks are an engaging way to examine elements of speeches, but also elements of non-fiction, information-based texts. The speech to text conversion is easy because on the TED website, there is a place to “show transcript” for many of the popular speeches (they even offer them in different languages). Then, the speech can be copied into a Word document. It might have to be reformatted a little, which I was able to do in five or so minutes. Once this is done, the speech can be looked at in a number of formats and more easily “read closely.”
This is what Melanie Begley and I did with the Kelly McGonical speech “How to Make Stress your Friend” referenced in a previous post. We combined this TEDTalk with the SOAPSTone method of note taking. In the method, students are asked to identify and provide textual evidence for the following: Speaker, Occasion, Audience, Purpose, Subject and Tone. There is a Power Point and handout (“notes sheet”) for introducing this concept attached at the end of this post. Here are the learning targets for the lesson:
- I can define and identify speaker, occasion, audience, purpose, subject, and tone in the context of text analysis.
- I can analyze texts (in this case speeches) to better understand the author’s message and intention.
- I can evaluate the effectiveness of a piece of writing (or speech) based upon these factors.
Students had already watched the speech and been given a transcript the previous day, so I introduced the parts of SOAPSTone to them and then gave them time to work in groups on identifying the elements. Here is the lesson plan we used:
SOAPStone Lesson Plan
- Pass out the “SOAPSTone Notes” handout with terms to students and review the learning targets with them, connecting learning to the long-term goal of evaluating sources and using persuasion in their own writing
- Using the Power Point, review all elements of the SOAPSTone method with students
- Pass out the large SOAPSTone papers to the groups and read the “Activity: In Groups” slide in the Power Point
- At this time, let them know they will need the SOAPSTone information and they should either plan to take a picture of it with their phone or copy the group’s work to the graphic organizer provided as they work
- Allow students 15-20 minutes to work in groups (depending upon time left in class); While students work, circulate and assist, focusing on the groups identified as needing help from the formative assessment
- Stop groups and read the “Rotate” slide
- Have students move to the next group’s work and evaluate the analysis using the prompting questions on the slide
- In the last five minutes, pass out and explain the exit ticket- due tomorrow
*On an additional note, we added some time for reflection at the end of the class period, prompting students to consider what they had learned from examining another group’s work. This was very successful.
While both Melanie and I liked the lesson, activity and materials quite a lot, we both agreed that more time would be needed to really flesh out the details of the process with students. For example, we only filled out three sections of the SOAPSTone instead of the whole thing. In addition, they only rotated once to see another group’s work.
Ideally, they would comment on two group’s work and fill out the whole SOAPStone. Then, we would have them go back to their own paper and revise the notes sheet to reflect what they had learned.
On a sub-note, we did try grouping homogeneously by ability level based upon a formative assessment. We were not sure how well it worked for this particular activity.
Here are the resources for the lesson:
“Chasing meaning is better for your health than trying to avoid discomfort… Go after what creates meaning in your life and trust yourself to handle the stress that follows.”
-Kelly McGonical, TED Talk “How to Make Stress your Friend”
Teaching can be an incredibly stressful profession these days. I have talked with a number of talented, dedicated educators recently who feel overwhelmed because of the testing, paperwork, and changing expectations in and out of the classroom. With all elements combined, the unintentional message from the world can overwhelmingly sound like, “You are not good enough” to many teachers.
This is unfortunate. Teaching is a profession of passion. Every teacher with whom I have the privilege of working is in the classroom because they care about young people and want to make an impact. They work hard; they make sacrifices; they show compassion. Even in the best of times, teaching is a difficult job. The grading, interpersonal challenges, and long days all make it so. In the article “Why They Leave” on the NEA website, it states that on any given year, “one-third of all new teachers leave after three years, and 46 percent are gone within five years.” The ones who stick around do so because they have the resilience, talent, and heart (excuse the cliche) to keep going for the sake of the young people they serve.
The good news for teachers is that according to health psychologist Kelly McGonical, we (humans) can change our stress responses and avoid the negative health benefits simply by changing the way we feel about stress. The even better news is that anxiety can bind us together and make us all stronger. In times of tension, we need one another to confide in; this releases positive chemicals. Furthermore, “caring creates resilience” to the emotions we experience when under pressure, and I don’t know anyone who cares more than teachers.
This TED Talk shown to me by Rachel Lang (the coaches’ coach) outlines these ideas about stress and others. It is fifteen minutes, and according to McGonical, watching it could save your life.
I hope you enjoy it on this Friday before you take the weekend to catch your breath, regroup, and remember all of the good things you do for your students every day; you are appreciated.